12/12/2016 06:40 GMT | Updated 13/12/2017 05:12 GMT

How To Be Creative? Do Nothing

I used to think of myself as a non-creative person. I was convinced that creativity was just not for me. There would be those who could paint and invent and draw and think of new ways of doing things. Then there was me. I was far more suited to consuming information and then regurgitating it in exams, whether I wanted to or not.

It was as if during my time in education, my mind became more and more clogged with facts and figures and formulas and numbers and dates and strategies that did no good but get me a certain letter, or a "grade", on a piece of paper a few months later.

This letter was supposed to signify my value so that I might be deemed valuable to other companies.

The problem with exams, as nearly everyone knows, is that for everyday life, they are completely useless. School teaches you how to be a good employee. It makes sure you get used to following orders, fearing authority, and believing everything you are told. It teaches you how to jump through hoops, do things you don't want to do so that you might get a better payoff in years to come, and then when the payoff comes, it feels even emptier than the work you were doing to get there.

When you are told that unless you get the good grades then you won't have the good life, the world becomes more and more scary. It's out to get you, it wants you heart, your throat, and you have to grind away, filling your mind with more and more and more and more things to remember and spew up on exam day.

And then a few days later, most of that retained information is gone.

I was a crammer, certainly. Even when I went to do jobs that my education was directly linked to, I still didn't have a clue what was going on. Bosses and managers and supervisors would ask me questions that I should have covered during my degree. I knew I should have known the answers, but they had left my memory as soon as that examiner in the room said, "Time's up, put down your pens."

Creativity requires space. Creativity is freshness, it is newness, it is life, and to expect it to come through a mind preoccupied with learning and believing everything that it is told from the outside, is like waiting for someone with a hoarse throat to sing like a bird. There is still too much damage inside, too much swelling, too much constriction, for anything beautiful to emerge.

And after I left university, finally, after feeling as if I had been focusing and working so hard towards literally a few pieces of paper with some letters and numbers on them, I crashed. I lost interest in the whole world. My mind felt so full of noise, of mostly useless knowledge that didn't seem relevant in real life, that it was as if I had a sickness of the mind. Constant, relentless thinking backed by a fear of life and a frustration that it still hadn't yielded to me that freedom that I always desired from it.

And when I crashed, I had a chance to do nothing. And doing nothing, is a beautiful thing. Especially when you have been expended doing many other things for a while.

But of course doing nothing is bad, lazy, selfish, useless...etc. Don't be lazy. You have to do something. If you aren't doing something, then you are wasting your life!

Perhaps the real waste comes from running around in the world, never realising who you are, never having the time to turn within for a while and see what's really going on inside of you. Balance is key. I noticed that after being so focused on the doing, and I fell back into being, the doing in my life took on a new energy.

When you do nothing, let your mind relax and deconstruct, or when your ideas about yourself or the world get shaken and destroyed, then suddenly there is that space that the light wants to emerge through, there is room for something fresh to emerge, to use the mind in a creative way.

Suddenly even the everyday things became creative. Writing, speaking, even cooking became enjoyable, when before it was a chore to be avoided or finished with as soon as possible.

Soon there was such a creative energy flowing, that it was as if I'd stepped into a new life, one that wasn't hindered by a mind solely trained to believe and regurgitate whatever it was told.

We must let ourselves do nothing. Even for a short while. Turning off the lights and closing our eyes at a time before we are planning to sleep. Sitting in a garden, on a chair, in a wood. Lying on the floor. Just do nothing for its own sake. The nothingness is beautiful, untouched, our source, and the source of so many other valuable things in our lives. Our focus on constant noise is draining. Falling back into nothing, undistracted, absorbed, is renewing. And it allows for things to come through you, things that that no one ever told you about before, that may surprise even you.

"This is very important -- to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you're gonna lose everything...just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That's why they're all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful."

- Charles Bukowski

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